8 Things To Know About Sunday’s ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Moana World Premiere

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Sunday, June 10, at Ko Olina’s great lawn, Moana speaks in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi for the first time.

1) Auliʻi is coming to the premiere

Auliʻi Cravalho—and other members of the ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi Moana cast—will appear at the world premiere on Sunday at Ko Olina.

2) By all accounts, her performance is incredible

We’ve heard from several people involved with the production that Cravalho’s dedication and effort raised the performance level of everyone involved.

Recording was every day for two weeks, from 8am to 8pm. Cravalho didn’t want to take breaks, and would repeat take after take to get an inflection or pronunciation just right. As a 17-year-old, she brought a world-class level of professionalism to a production we all hope is world-class.

3) That performance wasn’t a given

Cravalho doesn’t speak ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi conversationally. This understandably caused concern among the producers as her recording session approached.

What they didn’t know was that, while shooting Rise, a high-budget drama for NBC, Cravalho was taking ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi tutoring sessions with a kumu online. When the recording light turned green, she was ready.

4) This is the first Disney movie translated into Hawaiian

And hopefully not the last.

If Frozen gets translated into Japanese…

And Coco into German…

…there’s no reason local kids shouldn’t someday be able to choose to watch Toy Story, Cars II and Cinderella in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

5) The west side isn’t hosting just because Aulani’s here.

Aulani’s location has a lot to do with it, but, also, UH West Oʻahu had a big hand in the production.

Heather Haunani Giugni, a native Hawaiian filmmaker who leads ʻUluʻulu, the state’s film archive at UHWO, and Sharla Hanaoka, Director of Creative Media at UHWO, were producers, in collaboration with execs from Disney.

Students from the UH Academy of Creative Media, including some from UHWO, gained valuable experience working on the production.

6) Translating for an animated movie is really, really hard.

Moana’s translators are top-notch. The team of translators was led by Dr. Puakea Nogelmeier, a Hawaiian language professor and Executive Director of Awaiaulu, the leading organization for Hawaiian-language translation training.

But when you’re translating for animation, you can’t just translate word for word. Your translation must have the exact number of syllables as the original.

“It’s like the doing the New York Times crossword in pen with your eyes closed,” Nogelmeier told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

7) Translating when the character is talking on the screen is even harder.

Same problem here, the syllables have to match—but now the motions of the mouth when saying the words have to match too.

If the character on screen is opening their lips wide—maybe saying “Watch Out!”—then whatever the translator comes up with must require two syllables spoken with the lips far apart.

8) Translating song lyrics? Holy @#$@#$

Now it’s all of the above, plus you have to make the lines rhyme. How is this even possible? I honestly don’t know how any Disney movie is ever translated into anything.

Sunday’s Premiere At Ko Olina: The Deets

The ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi Moana world premiere is Sunday, June 10, at the large lawn near Ko Olina’s Lagoon 1. The event is part of Ko Olina’s World Oceans Day celebration.

This is how the event looked last year

I expect there will be a few more people this time. The event is free, but requires tickets, which have all been snapped up.

The celebration begins at 4pm. If you go, bring:

  • A reusable water bottle or cup. Ocean lovers frown on disposable plastic, because it tends to end up polluting the ocean. There will be refilling stations, but no water for sale.
  • A blanket to sit on during the movie. (High-back chairs aren’t allowed, they’d block views for the keiki.)
  • $10 cash. That’s how much parking is, and they won’t take cards.

Photo via Academy of Creative Media